17-year-old lands coveted role of Maria in ‘West Side Story’ revamp
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17-year-old lands coveted role of Maria in ‘West Side Story’ revamp

A New Jersey schoolgirl has landed the role of a lifetime – as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story reboot.

The filmmaker auditioned over 30,000 people for the lead role, opposite Ansel Elgort, in his updated version of the beloved 1961 musical, and now the new Maria has been unveiled – 17-year-old Rachel Zegler.

As well as Elgort, who will portray her love interest Tony in the film, the teenager joins Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo, while Josh Andres Rivera has been cast as Chino.

The original Anita, Rita Moreno, has also been invited back to play a store boss character originally portrayed by a man.

“When we began this process a year ago, we announced that we would cast the roles of Maria, Anita, Bernardo, Chino and the Sharks with Latina and Latino actors,” Spielberg says in a statement. “I’m so happy that we’ve assembled a cast that reflects the astonishing depth of talent in America’s multifaceted Hispanic community.

“I am in awe of the sheer force of the talent of these young performers, and I believe they’ll bring a new and electrifying energy to a magnificent musical that’s more relevant than ever.”

“I am so thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Maria alongside this amazing cast,” said Zegler. “West Side Story was the first musical I encountered with a Latina lead character. As a Colombian-American, I am humbled by the opportunity to play a role that means so much to the Hispanic community.”

Natalie Wood played Maria in the original 1961 movie, which was adapted for the screen from the 1957 Broadway musical, written by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins.

Filming on the new movie is scheduled to start in the summer.

– Cover Media

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